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Summer Books and Activities for Kids

Sports and the Olympics

Sports and the Olympics

How to explore this theme:

  1. Choose books and book-related activities
  2. Explore more hands-on activities
  3. Try some summer writing
  4. Dig deeper with these websites
  5. Play and learn with interactive mobile apps

#1: Choose kids' books and book-related activities Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

 Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee

Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee

By: Chris Van Dusen

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In this rhyming adventure, Mr. Magee and his dog Dee learn to ski. They didn't expect to run into a very curious moose, however, which turns their outing a real cliffhanger!

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Babar's Celesteville Games

Babar's Celesteville Games

By: Laurent de Brunhoff

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Babar and his family are thrilled that Celesteville is hosting the Games! This is their chance to see the best athletes from all over the world compete and to meet new people from other countries. Everyone is wide-eyed as gymnasts fly through the air, divers make a splash, and cyclists race to the finish line! [Amazon review]

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Baseball from A to Z

Baseball from A to Z

By: Michael Spradlin

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Comic illustrations effectively combine with a straightforward text to bring baseball terms to life. From A ("Ace. The best pitcher on the team...") to Z ("Strike Zone. To be in the strike zone, a pitch must be...") the alphabet is a device used to introduce all things baseball, likely to be appreciated by even young aficionados.

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How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals

How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals

By: Michael Phelps, Alan Abrahamson | Illustrated by: Ward Jenkins

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Michael Phelps, the celebrated swimming champion at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, explains the training schedule that allowed him to accomplish the first-of-its-kind feat — winning eight Olympic gold medals. Comparisons are made that put statistics like miles swum, naps taken, calories eaten, and weights lifted into a context that youngsters might more easily understand. [School Library Journal]

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Olympics

Olympics

By: B.G. Hennessy | Illustrated by: Michael Chesworth

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Pre-Reader

All over the world, people are getting ready for the Olympics. Runners, swimmers, skiers, and skaters are practicing; teams are learning to work together. Meanwhile, workers are making flags, medals, uniforms and equipment. But soon the Olympic torch will be lighted and the games will start. [Amazon review]

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Pelé: King of Soccer/El rey del fútbol

Pelé: King of Soccer/El rey del fútbol

By: Monica Brown | Illustrated by: Rudy Gutiérrez

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Did you know that as a boy, Pelé played soccer in bare feet with a grapefruit instead of a soccer ball? Monica Brown shares the inspirational story of the beloved soccer star's rise from humble beginnings to becoming El rey del fútbol. Rudy Gutiérrez's brilliant and fluid illustrations of Pelé and "the beautiful game" of soccer leap off the page. Bilingual text.

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She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

By: Audrey Vernick | Illustrated by: Don Tate

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Effa Manley, born when jazz was new and sports were segregated, was passionate about fairness and baseball. She was to become the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with players from the Negro Baseball League. Her life is presented in stylized illustration and clear text, for an intriguing portrait of a person and a time.

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Sports! Sports! Sports! A Poetry Collection

Sports! Sports! Sports! A Poetry Collection

By: Lee Bennett Hopkins | Illustrated by: Brian Floca

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Can a poem capture the excitement, exhilaration, or anguish of defeat when playing sports? The poems here do all that and more! It's an easy-to-read collection that's illustrated with just the right light touch.

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The Mud Flat Olympics

The Mud Flat Olympics

By: James Stevenson

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The animals of Mud Flat decide to let the games begin in their unique version of Olympic competition. From the "Deepest Hole Contest" to the "River-Cross Freestyle," readers will chuckle with the furry Olympians.

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis

By: Matt de la Peña | Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Joe Louis' boxing match against Max Schmeling in 1938 reverberated in the U.S. and through the world. Its drama is presented in rhythmic text and stunning illustrations.

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A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson

A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson

By: David Adler | Illustrated by: Robert Casilla

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

A portrait of a true American sports hero, Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American to play on a major league baseball team.

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A Picture Book of Jesse Owens

A Picture Book of Jesse Owens

By: David Adler | Illustrated by: Robert Casilla

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Jesse Owens was a breakthrough athlete — an African American who captured the world stage (and four gold medals!) at the 11th Olympiad in Nazi Germany. In this book, readers will learn about his life through brief text and watercolor illustrations.

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A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

By: Michelle Green | Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

At just over 5 feet tall, no one thought Mamie Johnson, also known as "Peanut" because of her size, would become a baseball star. But she sure could pitch! The author collaborated with the actual Mamie Johnson to tell the riveting — and real — story of how Peanut Johnson became one of three women to play professionally in the Negro Baseball League.

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Ancient Greece and the Olympics (A Magic Treehouse Research Guide)

Ancient Greece and the Olympics (A Magic Treehouse Research Guide)

By: Mary Pope Osborne

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Where and how the Olympics began is explored in this factual companion to Hour of the Olympics (one in the fantasy series in which siblings Annie and Jack time travel). The informational book stands alone or can augment the novel (for 6-9 year olds) as they explore the origins of the Olympics.

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Basketball Belles: How Two Teams & One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map

Basketball Belles: How Two Teams & One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map

By: Sue Macy | Illustrated by: Heather Collins

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Women and girls haven't always played basketball. In fact, it was a struggle to play while acting "lady-like" in the late 1800s. Readers will enjoy learning about Agnes Motley and the competition that launched women into basketball through vivid prose and lively illustration.

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Bill Pickett:  Rodeo-Ridin Cowboy

Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin Cowboy

By: Andrea Pinkney, Brian Pinkney | Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The most celebrated black cowboy was Bill Pickett, a fearless rodeo star with a knack for taming bulls that brought the crowds to their feet. The closing note in this book provides an overview of the history of rodeos and black cowboys.

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Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson

Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson

By: Charles Smith | Illustrated by: Shane Evans

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Arthur John Johnson became known as Black Jack, the world's first black heavyweight champion and one of the best known boxers of the 20th century. Readers meet him through a rhythmic text and bold illustrations that present a clever, hardworking, and confident man. The book is published just in time to commemorate the anniversary of historic fight, July 4, 1910.

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Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team

By: Audrey Vernick | Illustrated by: Steven Salerno

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

"[B]ack in the 1920s and '30s," twelve of sixteen Acerra children played baseball (the girls back then didn't play sports). This upbeat look at one close-knit, longtime baseball-playing family is jauntily illustrated. An author's note reveals her inspiration and an update on the Acerras (including their induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame).

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Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art!

Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art!

By: George Ancona

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

A trip to Brazil inspired this look at a unique sport called "capoeira." The result is a compelling journey into capoeira's history and its popularity around the world. The book begins with students at an academy in Oakland, California. Well-placed and -paced, full-color photographs chronicle this amazing activity.

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Cross-Country Cat

Cross-Country Cat

By: Mary Calhoun | Illustrated by: Erick Ingraham

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

What kind of cat would go sliding off on skis, and who'd believe it anyway? When the family accidentally leaves Henry, their sassy Siamese, behind at the ski lodge, he takes matters into his own paws in this beguiling adventure. [Amazon]

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Freeze Frame: A History of the Winter Olympics

Freeze Frame: A History of the Winter Olympics

By: Sue Macy

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The winter games began in France in 1924. This compelling examination of their start, the evolution of the games, and more are revealed in photographs and compelling text. It is current through the 2006 winter Olympic Games.

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Home-Run King

Home-Run King

By: Patricia McKissack

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

There were always discoveries to be made in their grandmother's attic; and Gee always had a story to go along with it. On this visit, the cousins find an autographed baseball that leads to a story about the Negro Baseball League and its stars, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Exciting, predictable, and well-paced, this is sure to appeal to children.

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Hour of the Olympics

Hour of the Olympics

By: Mary Pope Osborne | Illustrated by: Sal Murdocca

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Annie and Jack travel back in time to the first Olympic games to retrieve a lost story. There they learn a lot about what girls were — and were not — permitted to do in Ancient Greece. (Magic Tree House #16)

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How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball

How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball

By: David Shannon | Illustrated by: David Shannon

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Baseball and a boy named Georgie Radbourn are the reason that America's perpetual winter came to an end. It was his perseverance and love of baseball that finally cracked failed player Boss Swaggert's hold on the game. Dark hued illustrations evoke a time past and celebrate the triumph of innocence over evil.

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Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen

Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen

By: Marissa Moss | Illustrated by: C. F. Payne

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Jackie loved to pitch baseball. Her long practices paid off when at 17-years old she pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts in a demonstration game against the New York Yankees. Jackie struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — and forever changed baseball's rules. The excitement of Jackie Mitchell's story is well-paced, illustrated with slightly exaggerated and altogether winning illustrations.

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Mush! Sled Dogs of the Iditarod

Mush! Sled Dogs of the Iditarod

By: Joe Funk

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Iditarod racers often run in families of humans and the dogs that run. The grueling, exciting race is introduced in clearly labeled photographs and crisp text just right for dipping in and out of for a glimpse at the brave animals and people who run it.

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Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy

By: Bill Wise | Illustrated by: Adam Gustavson

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

William Hoy wasn't born deaf but lost it as a boy growing up in rural Ohio. In spite of his hearing loss, Hoy went on to become a remarkable major league baseball player at the end of the 19th century. His little known story is sure to inspire contemporary readers who will meet him in this handsome, detailed picture book biography.

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Skating Superstars

Skating Superstars

By: Scholastic Publishing

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Figure skating has become a popular Winter Olympics sport. Meet well-known figure skaters from around the world in full color photographs and a readable but brief text. A table of contents allows newly independent readers to easily find their favorite skater in this collective biography.

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Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics

Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics

By: Sue Macy

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Even though the ancient Greeks conceived the Olympics, it was a small Frenchman "with a shrill voice and a bushy mustache" who almost single-handedly brought the modern Olympics to life again. This revealing, clear, and handsome book provides an engaging and authoritative overview of the summer Olympics.

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Tacky and the Winter Games

Tacky and the Winter Games

By: Helen Lester | Illustrated by: Lynn Munsinger

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

While Tacky's friends train for the winter games, he sleeps during sit-ups, pigs out on pizza and doughnuts, and goofs off late into the night. The author brings in many facets of the Olympics: training before the games, the march of the athletes into the stadium for the opening ceremonies that include the lighting of a torch. Of course, there are also differences between these games and the televised ones — for skis, the penguins strap frozen fish to their feet! [Booklist]

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The Wrigley Riddle

The Wrigley Riddle

By: David Kelly

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Go inside Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs play baseball with Mike and Katie as they solve the mystery of the missing ivy. Baseball aficionados and those who like a mystery are sure to enjoy this latest installment in an easier to read, baseball- themed mystery series.

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Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman

By: Kathleen Krull | Illustrated by: David Diaz

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Wilma Rudolph not only overcame polio, she went on to become the first woman to win three Olympic gold medals in Rome in 1960. Semiabstract paintings convey her power and personality in this accessible picture book biography.

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball

We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball

By: Kadir Nelson, Nelson

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

An introduction by baseball great Hank Aaron opens this riveting look at the history of the Negro League. A large format supports revealing portraits of League players and an absorbing narration revealed in nine innings. Endnotes and further readings conclude this memorable and accessible history.

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More great summer resources for parents from Reading Rockets

Read Aloud Tips

Read Aloud Tips

Read aloud every day with your child and talk about what you're reading. These two simple activities help build your child's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Get tips (In English and 10 other languages) >

Downloadables

Downloadables

Download these colorful ready-to-print lunch box notes, play date cards, and door hangers for the kids in your life.

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